Cross-Border Student Mobility: A case study of Aga Khan University
20 April 2017, by Faisal Notta & Dr Tashmin Khamis
Below is an abstract of the authors' paper submitted for the International Network for Quality Assurance Agencies in Higher Education 2017 Conference in Bahrain.
Global yet local, the Aga Khan University, with multiple campuses across continents, has a vision for student and faculty to provide the opportunities for spending/attending part of the same programme through mobility across national borders. However, realizing this vision presents challenges for policy makers and practitioners due to varied and different levels of quality assurance compliance which demand different mechanisms in different national jurisdictions. In this regard the requirements of External Quality Agency in each country as regulatory body, in both higher education and campus quality mechanisms sometimes are not aligned, which creates issues such as recognition of credits, degrees, equivalence of qualifications, and accreditation of credentials in different national jurisdictions.
This paper uses an analytical framework in order to analyze the national QA standards prescribed by Commissions in the jurisdictions in which the Aga Khan University (AKU) operates. This analysis helps to identify the potential areas of tensions existing among the Commission’s standards and contributes to suggest processes for AKU in order to break down barriers for cross-border student mobility.
Commissions are set up and established in different time periods and thus have different level of maturity and standards in understanding quality assurance in higher education. At the same time these commissions' QA standards are developed in different political and economic contexts. While UK QA standards reveal more maturity and focus on students’ engagement and enhancement of student experiences, which contributes to strengthening and further developing academic standards at HEIs, the standards of HEC in Pakistan are in the initial phase of development (Qureshi, 2016). Key common themes of QA standards of these commissions are: achievement of students' learning outcomes, curriculum design, organization and approval of programme, teaching and learning, processes of students’ recruitment and progression during the programme, and quality of faculty. Key differences are: requirement and satisfaction of stakeholders. Another major difference in all commissions is the number of years for cyclical reviews. To understand concrete results and outcomes of cross-border higher education (CBHE) at AKU, a longitudinal study following students and alumni is suggested which will further develop insights about acceptance of credential for employment outside the national jurisdiction.
Faisal Notta is Assistant Director, Network of Quality Assurance and Improvement at Aga Khan University and a graduate of the LH Martin Institute's Graduate Certificate in Quality Assurance course. Dr Tashmin Khamis is Director, Network of Quality Assurance and Improvement and Director, Network of Teaching and Learning at Aga Khan University. Download their recent presentation on the above topic for further insight.